desolate

adjective
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-lət How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-zə- \

Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : devoid of inhabitants and visitors : deserted a desolate abandoned town
2 : joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one a desolate widow
3a : showing the effects of abandonment and neglect : dilapidated a desolate old house
b : barren, lifeless a desolate landscape
c : devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope : gloomy desolate memories

desolate

verb
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-ˌlāt How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-zə- \
desolated; desolating

Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make desolate:
a : to deprive of inhabitants The neighboring towns were desolated.
b : to lay waste desolating the city with bombs
c : forsake their desolated families back home
d : to make wretched

Other Words from desolate

Adjective

desolately adverb
desolateness noun

Verb

desolater or desolator \ ˈde-​sə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-​zə-​ \ noun
desolatingly \ ˈde-​sə-​ˌlā-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce desolate (audio) , ˈde-​zə-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for desolate

Adjective

alone, solitary, lonely, lonesome, lone, forlorn, desolate mean isolated from others. alone stresses the objective fact of being by oneself with slighter notion of emotional involvement than most of the remaining terms. everyone needs to be alone sometimes solitary may indicate isolation as a chosen course glorying in the calm of her solitary life but more often it suggests sadness and a sense of loss. left solitary by the death of his wife lonely adds to solitary a suggestion of longing for companionship. felt lonely and forsaken lonesome heightens the suggestion of sadness and poignancy. an only child often leads a lonesome life lone may replace lonely or lonesome but typically is as objective as alone. a lone robin pecking at the lawn forlorn stresses dejection, woe, and listlessness at separation from one held dear. a forlorn lost child desolate implies inconsolable grief at loss or bereavement. desolate after her brother's death

dismal, dreary, bleak, gloomy, cheerless, desolate mean devoid of cheer or comfort. dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess. dismal weather dreary, often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility. a dreary job bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten. the bleak years of the depression gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise. gloomy war news cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering. a drab and cheerless office desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect. a desolate outpost

What is the word origin of desolate?

The word desolate hasn't strayed far from its Latin roots: its earliest meaning of "deserted" mirrors that of its Latin source dēsōlātus, which comes from the verb dēsōlāre, meaning "to leave all alone, forsake, empty of inhabitants." That word's root is sōlus, meaning "lone, acting without a partner, lonely, deserted," source too of sole, soliloquy, solitary, solitude, and solo. Desolate also functions as a verb with its most common meanings being "to lay waste" and "to make wretched; to make someone deeply dejected or distressed."

Examples of desolate in a Sentence

Adjective a desolate house abandoned many years ago destitute and desolate since her husband walked out on her Verb totally desolated the city with aerial bombs
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Restaurants, shops and hotels that were once filled with U.S. visitors sat desolate and empty. Sandra Dibble, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 May 2022 Apart from the occasional cattle ranch or sheep-herding camp, the landscape appears desolate and lonely, forgotten in the expanse of geologic time. Matt Stirn, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Mar. 2022 In an elaborate ruse, Keith and Valeria Smith claimed two panhandlers with a baby approached the car and asked for money at a stop sign in a desolate area of East Baltimore. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, 13 Dec. 2021 Sites were considered in other states, including Georgia, California and Alaska, with engineers needing a mostly desolate area close to the ocean. New York Times, 24 May 2021 Now under new ownership, the desolate Downriver office building is preparing for a midlife transformation into a 201-unit apartment building. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, 20 Apr. 2022 Flex was prerecording segments in a nondescript Chelsea office building; Fivio and friends were shown to a rather desolate hospitality room, which was full of Cîroc vodka decorations yet surprisingly bereft of the product itself. Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, 18 Apr. 2022 When Macron tried to address the desolate state of many schools in the city last year, that also drew criticism. Washington Post, 17 Apr. 2022 On a recent sunny but bone-chillingly windy morning, one of the colorful vaccination trucks pulled into a desolate parking lot in front of a mall in the hardscrabble neighborhood of Gröpelingen. New York Times, 12 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For eight weeks, the streets of Paris were empty of traffic and silent, the sidewalks desolate, all but essential food stores closed. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, 23 July 2020 For eight weeks, the streets of Paris were empty of traffic and silent, the sidewalks desolate, all but essential food stores closed. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, 23 July 2020 For eight weeks, the streets of Paris were empty of traffic and silent, the sidewalks desolate, all but essential food stores closed. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, 23 July 2020 For eight weeks, the streets of Paris were empty of traffic and silent, the sidewalks desolate, all but essential food stores closed. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, 23 July 2020 For eight weeks, the streets of Paris were empty of traffic and silent, the sidewalks desolate, all but essential food stores closed. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, 23 July 2020 But by summer’s end, the early excitement had died down and many sidewalk tables were languishing unfilled, leaving neighborhood streets desolate rather than boisterous, North End restaurateurs said then. BostonGlobe.com, 28 July 2021 Marville traced the urban growth of Paris, from ramshackle construction sites to burgeoning neighborhoods, desolate outskirts and how quickly Paris modernized in the mid 19th century. Nadja Sayej, Forbes, 7 June 2021 Tourism in the city has dropped since the coronavirus pandemic began, leaving New York’s normally busy shopping districts desolate. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, 12 Aug. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desolate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of desolate

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for desolate

Adjective

Middle English desolat, desolate "deserted, lonely, distressed," borrowed from Latin dēsōlātus, past participle of dēsōlāre "to leave all alone, forsake, empty of inhabitants," from dē- de- + -sōlāre, verbal derivative of sōlus "lone, acting without a partner, lonely, deserted," of uncertain origin

Verb

Middle English desolaten (in past participle desolatid "deserted, ruined"), borrowed from Latin dēsōlātus, past participle of dēsōlāre "to leave all alone, forsake, empty of inhabitants" — more at desolate entry 1

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Time Traveler for desolate

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The first known use of desolate was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near desolate

desoil

desolate

desolation

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Desolate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desolate. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for desolate

desolate

adjective
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-lət How to pronounce desolate (audio) \

Kids Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having no comfort or companionship : lonely
2 : left neglected or in ruins a desolate old house
3 : without signs of life : barren a dry, desolate land
4 : cheerless, gloomy She put aside desolate thoughts.

Other Words from desolate

desolately adverb

desolate

verb
des·​o·​late | \ ˈde-sə-ˌlāt How to pronounce desolate (audio) \
desolated; desolating

Kids Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to ruin or leave without comfort or companionship

More from Merriam-Webster on desolate

Nglish: Translation of desolate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desolate for Arabic Speakers

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